When several top officials of the Democratic Alliance (DA) resigned from the former leading opposition party in the country last year, many though that the DA would soon bounce back to take up their place in politics in Mzansi.
However, the quitting of former DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba and other senior officials and the subsequent return to politics by former leader, Helen Zille seem to have thrown the DA into the deep-end.
Since Maimane’s departure, things have clearly not been easy for the democrats who have had to deal with internal revolts in the party which lately according to some media reports this week included the revolt in Pretoria when some DA leaders in Tshwane faced the DA leadership over a variety of internal struggles.
Then there was the release of the DA draft policy document to the public by Zille who is the current federal council chairperson and head of policy, Gwen Ngwenya which move some political observers argued was likely to cause further divisions in the DA.
According to latest media reports, several DA leaders have criticised Zille and Ngwenya for releasing the draft document without giving them a chance to first look at it for them to make inputs into it before making it public.
Ex-DA youth leader, Mbali Ntuli accused Zille and several other leaders of having unfettered access to the party.
Released by Ngwenya at a media briefing last week, the release of the document has exposed cracks in the opposition party ahead of its April policy conference. The unveiling of the draft which will guide discussions at the conference has angered some senior party members who have accused Ngwenya and Zille of “unilaterally” deciding DA policies while Ngwenya, herself, was not a politician but merely held the position of a staff member and could not decide on DA policy matters.
To further expose the existence of “bad blood” between DA leadership, Zille has been supported by interim party leader, John Steenhuisen and Thomas Walters who said the process was designed to get as many comments as possible ahead of the conference.
However, despite these internal battles, the DA still appears to be better organised internally compared to the African National Congress (ANC) which organisation has lately been confronted by worse internal strife.
The apparent confusion caused by the Gwede Mantashe statement about the South African Airways (SAA) when addressing guests at the Cape Town convention centre last week seems to have added to previous internal tensions in the organisation. He had publicly called for SAA to be sold if it continued to lose money. Some ANC and government leaders were opposed to that but President Cyril Ramaphosa and some senior ANC and government leaders told them that the national airline would not be closed down.
These, political observers have argued were also further prove of the internal differences between political parties and their leaderships.
Tonight when he presents his next state of the nation address, President Ramaphosa gets yet another chance to assure South Africans that the unity that the late Nelson Mandela spoke about among South Africans following his release from prison 30 years ago, was possible and achievable.